Express yourself with empathy Express yourself with empathy

Express yourself with empathy

WITH YOUR MIND 12 February, 2021 Ana María López de Mesa

Discover how to act and communicate your emotions without fear, moving away from the stereotype that masculinity must be seen as something rigid and authoritarian.

David Quebradas
Psychologist specializing in neuroscience

In 1995, the U.S. educational psychologist Daniel Goleman wrote the book ‘Emotional Intelligence’, in which he set out how an individual’s ability to manage emotions determined their success in life. At that time, he noted that “if you don’t have control over your emotions, if you don’t possess self-awareness, if you are unable to manage painful emotions, if you can’t feel empathy and maintain effective relationships, then it doesn’t matter how intelligent you are, you’re not going to get very far”.

At the time this theory proved revolutionary, due particularly to the fact that emotions were considered nebulous and unknown terrain. Nowadays, emotional intelligence (EQ) is taking on ever-increasing importance and forms part of business selection processes in particular, because a suitable response to emotions ensures better communication and a healthy working environment.

In his study ‘Understanding and Developing Emotional Intelligence’, published in the 2017 book ‘Knowledge Solution’, the researcher Oliver Serrat notes that the process of developing this ability brings together elements that reduce stress by “reducing conflict, promoting understanding and relationships, and fostering stability, permanence and harmony, last but not least, because connections are made with love and spirituality”.


Managing emotions is a learning process that applies to men and women alike. In some cultures, men are charged with the burden of being rigid, authoritarian and less expressive, an image that has softened as times have changed.

In the view of the clinical psychologist David Quebradas, something that has been of help to many is being able to understand that they are not isolated beings, and that they should not impose their own viewpoint on others. Nowadays, more emphasis is placed on teamwork and connections, and more active listening is taught.

Furthermore, education no longer takes place according to role – that is, what a person must do as a result of being a man or a woman – but rather on the basis of the capabilities of each human being, their potential and emotional management. “When faced with communicative situations with others, such as ‘I feel under attack when my physical or intellectual space is invaded’, communication will be guided by an emotion according to which a reaction will be created. In these contexts, we can’t control what we feel, but we can manage our emotions”, adds Quebradas.

This means taking a moment to become aware of your emotions, and choosing to express them in the best way possible without causing harm to the other person. At this point body language comes into play; when responding, you should try to adopt a relaxed and not aggressive posture, and find the right tone and words that will help you to find common ground amid your differences. Factors such as empathy, gestures and controlling your temperament are essential when building more effective communication. This can be worked on if you are able to recognize your own emotions, if you know yourself and if you educate yourself on the subject in order to nurture happier and more satisfying relationships. •

Empathy is key to consolidating friendships and fostering cooperation and it also enhances decision-making abilities, according to the Psychology Today website. 1993 is the year when the World Health Organization recognized empathy as a skill for life.

Improve your assertiveness

If you feel that change is needed in the way you act and express yourself, or if you need help to open up and communicate more effectively, take note of these steps for action:

When communicating in a difficult situation, opt to ask questions and determine where the other person sees things from. Express yourself sincerely but calmly, and try to be more empathetic with others.

At first, speak with those closest to you or ask them for help to polish your communication skills. Doing so will not only boost your self-knowledge but also your self-esteem, by starting work on and taking control of your process of becoming a better person.

Take on a secondary role in social relationships. Not trying to take center stage or expecting people to always ask your opinion will create a more conciliatory atmosphere.

Power acquires legitimacy based not on authoritarianism, but on reaching a consensus on the basis of difference. Lead with wisdom and an understanding of idiosyncrasies.